Tuesday, January 12, 2010

GOP, Tea Party Show Down In Florida

Dan Robertson, tea party spokesperson, said in regards to putting pressure on moderate Republicans, "we are turning our guns on anyone who doesn't support constitutional conservative candidates."

What exactly does this mean for the rest of us? I fear that the tea party is trying to seize control of the Republican party and push their idea of the constitution, claiming to do so in the name of populism, but in reality, they will only represent the fringe and they will ignore the rest of the population. In my opinion, it seems that the tea party itself has transformed in it's short existence, from being a group protesting government spending to being overrun by those who view America as a Christian nation and support radical views on abortion, gun rights, and gay marriage. If elected to office, these candidates won't listen to their constituency. If elected, these politicians will listen to God first, and attempt to enact legislation because they believe it to be right, even if the people in their districts believe otherwise. This is what worries me about the upcoming Florida race for senator, which is heating up between popular GOP governor and former attorney general Charlie Crist and former state representative and speaker of the house in Florida, Marco Rubio.

While Crist has become very popular being a moderate, tackling numerous issues at times embracing Democratic measures, Rubio is positioning himself as the "conservative" candidate, with supporters going on the attack against Crist for supporting the stimulus, and even being photographed with the President. What makes the two so different? Not much, other then one has a willingness to listen to the other side.

While both have similar stances on taxes, gay marriage (against), abortion (pro-life), and the 2nd amendment, the two also have their differences. As mentioned before, Crist supported the stimulus while Rubio was against it. In my opinion, during the economic crisis, as the leader of a state, I think that one would look out for the best interest of their state and not be persuaded by party politics, but instead by the needs of their constituency. To me, it seems that this is where Rubio tries to make himself as the conservative candidate, trying to pick up the base who will be needed to beat Crist in the primaries, and this is where Crist may be hurt.

If you look at the language Rubio uses, you can see how he is playing to the GOP's base. He refers to the estate tax as the "death tax," a Republican invention, he attacks Judge Sonia Sotomayor for her "wise Latina" comment , as well at what she may do to the decision Roe vs. Wade, although I am surprised Rubio fails to mention her decision for Center for Reproductive Law and Policy vs. Bush, where she sided against an abortion rights group that was suing because of a foreign aid policy that states countries receiving aid may not use Federal money towards or to promote abortions). Rubio also calls for increased drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, as well as off the continental shelf and on federally owned lands with oil shale to the West.

While Crist may take more populist positions, such as the move to buy up land used by the sugar industry, in order to restore and preserve Florida's ecosystem, I would imagine Rubio would do so only if there was oil beneath the sugar fields. Crist's moderate position places him in danger of being targeted by the right's extremists, giving Rubio the nomination, and against Democratic front runner Bill McCollum, who I don't see winning, Rubio may be the next governor. What I also foresee, if Crist does win the GOP slot, is the tea party fielding their own candidate, much like New York's District 23 race, which essentially would hand over florida to the Democrats.

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